3 August 1862: “To-day — Sunday — is very quiet, and reminds me much of a Sunday at home, the usual work being suspended.”

Item description: Letter, dated 3 August 1862, as collected and published in Memoir and Memorials (The Neale Publishing Co., 1907), a memoir of Elisha Franklin Paxton.

Elisha Franklin Paxton was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1828. He studied at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and Yale before entering law school at the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1849 and practiced law in Ohio and Lexington, Virginia. In 1860, when failing eyesight forced him to give up the law profession, he became a farmer. In April 1861, Paxton joined the Confederate army as a first lieutenant with the Rockbridge Rifles. He fought at the 1st Battle of Bull Run and was elected major of the 27th Virginia regiment in October 1861. Continuing to climb through the ranks, Paxton was promoted to brigadier general in February 1862. He led the Stonewall Brigade at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was killed in May 1863.

John G. Paxton, one of Elisha Paxton’s four children, collected his father’s letters and printed them under the title Memoir and Memorials: Elisha Franklin Paxton, Brigadier-General, C.S.A. (1905). Paxton’s weekly letters written to his young wife describe the Civil War from the perspective of a Confederate soldier and officer. Covering a span of two years, the letters begin in April 1861 and continue until April 27, 1863, just six days before he was killed. John G. Paxton also includes a series of letters and telegrams written during the war, among them a telegram from General Robert E. Lee expressing his sincere regrets over Paxton’s death at Chancellorsville. Letters from friends to the Paxton family offer similar condolences. The collection also contains official Union and Confederate army records documenting Paxton’s military accomplishments, and extracts from the journal of Margaret J. Preston, a neighbor of the Paxtons and the author of Beechenbrook; A Rhyme of the War (1865).

[Biographical information courtesy of DocSouth.]

Item citation: Paxton, Elisha Franklin. Memoir and Memorials. New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1907. UNC Library, Call Number: E605. P34 1907

Full transcription of this item available via DocSouth.

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